ZACK VON ROSENBERG
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|| Born: September 24, 1990
Height: 6′ 5″
Drafted: 6th Round, 175th Overall, 2009
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Zachary HS (Zachary, LA)
Agent: Wes Theriot, Beverly Hills Sports Council
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Thanks to the oddities of MLB’s amateur draft, as well as the Pirates’ draft strategy, Von Rosenberg may have been the second most promising player the Pirates drafted in 2009, even though he went in round 6. In fact, Baseball America didn’t rank him, at #41 overall, much lower than first round selection Tony Sanchez, who was #32 overall. He had a storied high school career, winning games to clinch the state title in four straight years. It’s not clear why Von Rosenberg fell so far, as BA believed he’d pass up his LSU scholarship if taken in the first two rounds. He and his family are, however, big LSU fans and he went to the College World Series to watch LSU win the national championship.
BA characterized Von Rosenberg as having good command of a fastball, curve and change. His velocity was 88-91 as a senior, but the Pirates no doubt expect it to increase. I see that projection with every drafted pitcher who’s 6’4″ or taller with a lean frame, but it never seems to happen, at least not with the Pirates.
In any event, Von Rosenberg reached agreement with the Pirates on a bonus of $1.2M about a week before the signing deadline. His signing capped off a flurry in which the Pirates agreed to terms, for above-slot money, with him, Colton Cain and Zack Dodson over a period of just a couple days. This partly validated the team’s draft strategy of paying slot money to Tony Sanchez in the first round in order to spend considerable, above-slot money in later rounds. (The complete validation, of course, comes if and when the draft produces at the major league level.)
Von Rosenberg got in one inning on the last day of the GCL season.
Despite speculation that Von Rosenberg would appear at West Virginia at some point, he spent the season at State College. He had a shaky start, posting an ERA of 7.50 in first three outings, but 2.11 after that. He walked very few, but didn’t van many, either. Von Rosenberg created some concern by throwing in low- to mid-80s during spring training and at the beginning of season, but his velocity got back up to the upper-80s and low-90s later on. There may have been some carryover from 2009, when Von Rosenberg said he had a tired arm around the time of signing. He made enough progress that Baseball America rated him 6th best prospect in NYPL. According to BA, he especially improved his changeup and his curve showed promise.
Von Rosenberg had a difficult season at West Virginia, getting hit extremely hard much of the time. For the season, opponents hit .290 against him with 19 HRs, which is a lot for that level. Most of the HRs came in the first half of the season; he allowed 14 in his first 68 innings. Ironically, his walk and strikeout numbers for the season were good. His stuff at times seemed better than previously. His fastball sat in the upper-80s in some games, but at 90-92 in others, although it lacked movement and he tended to leave it up. His offspeed stuff showed promise and he did better when he mixed it in more. One positive sign was Von Rosenberg finishing the season strongly. Over his last nine starts, he had an ERA of 2.66. That lowered his season’s ERA considerably from 7.58, which is where it was before that stretch. In his very last start, he threw six perfect innings.
Von Rosenberg’s pitching late in the 2011 season seemed to hold some promise for 2012, but it didn’t work out that way. He was throwing only in the mid-80s in spring training and was getting hit extremely hard. The Pirates held him back in extended spring training after the season started, then sent him to West Virginia in early June. Over the course of the year he showed only marginal improvement on 2011. He didn’t get hit quite as hard–he cut his opponents’ batting average to .272 and allowed fewer HRs–but his walk and K rates both got worse, and he allowed more baserunners. He had some good stretches, such as a 2.36 ERA in July and a nine-inning three-hitter in his last start, but the end result was very limited progress.
Von Rosenberg will still be only 22 at the start of the 2013 season and will move up to Bradenton, which would make him a reasonable age for that level. The hoped-for improvement in his stuff, though, isn’t happening; in fact, he was topping out at 82-83 mph during spring training. He’s been a flyball pitcher the last two years and he doesn’t have the stuff for that.